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Parchment, Please

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Near the year
1000
we find
Maximos Planudes
nude
writing to a friend
in Asia Minor
asking for parchment
because the right quality
is not for sale
in his own neighborhood,
presumably Constantinople.
 
In the end,
all he receives
are some asses’ skins,
which do not please
him in the least,
and a note:
 
                                                      Dear Max,
 
                                                      No parchment
                                                      till the summer,
                                                      months after the population
                                                      begins to eat meat.
                                                      Low yield
                                                      should come as no surprise,
                                                      our medieval animals
                                                      being much smaller
                                                      than their modern
                                                      counterparts.
 
                                                      Love,
                                                      A. Minor

Sasha Steensen, “Parchment, Please” from The Method. Copyright © 2008 by Sasha Steensen. Reprinted by permission of Sasha Steensen.
Source: The Method (Fence Books, 2008)
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Parchment, Please

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  • Poet Sasha Steensen grew up in rural Ohio and Las Vegas. She earned a BA and an MFA at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a PhD in poetics at SUNY Buffalo. She is the author of several collections of poetry, including House of Deer (2014), The Method (2008), and A Magic Book (2004), which won the Alberta DuPont Bonsal Prize, as well as several chapbooks, including the collaboration Correspondence: For La Paz (2004) with Gordon Hadfield. 

    Steensen frequently makes use of both research and personal history. Reviewing The Method, which takes its impetus from an ancient, evolving manuscript originally written by Archimedes, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly noted that “Steensen guides us through the long journey of this ancient manuscript and artfully demonstrates how a book is a record of power dynamics in this multifaceted exploration of the complicated relationship between an author and her creation, which speaks both...

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